Is this all about habit? Reasons why going paperless is still so unattainable

paperless office

In 1975, analysts from BusinessWeek predicted that paper documents would disappear from circulation by 1990. 

But this did not happen.

Referring to the stats

In fact, paper consumption in the United States for the last 20 years has increased from 92 million tons to 208 million – a growth rate of 126%. 

The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.

Technology hasn’t replaced paper for a reason.

  1. Computers and the Internet provided unlimited access to information – information that can easily be accessed digitally (but apparently is still best absorbed on dead trees).
  2. Printing technology has become so compact, cheap and secure that just about anybody with a computer can afford to print whenever they want.

These two theories were proposed in ‘In The Myth of the Paperless Office’, Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper study.

Yet even the World Wide Web, which allows almost any computer to read and display another computer’s documents, has only increased the amount of printing done by computer users. The use of e-mail in an organization increases paper consumption by an average of 40 percent.

So what’s so important about paper?

In 105 AD Tsai Lun, a Chinese eunuch and secret adviser to Emperor Ho Ti, was credited for inventing what we call paper today.

Its use spread to first Asia, then the Arab World and finally – Europe (that in the end immortalized paper with Gutenberg’s printing press). 

It’s been 5 centuries since then, and now we’re more environmentally concerned than ever before. 

It would seem that the obvious choice would be to go paperless and fully implement a digital transformation.

But unfortunately…this appears to be just a matter of habit.


The actual reasons lie in the affordances of paper

Paper is a physical artifact, so:

  1. The delivery of paper documents is a significant cultural practice.
  2. Paper is still the medium of choice for reading.
  3. Paper gives a pleasant tactile sensation.

Documents create a paper reality we call prove. Mason Cooley

So reorganizing this work practice is the long and the short of it

Of course, you can’t blow your nose into an email, but you can simplify the document work that paper supported. 

In the modern world, when in a few hours you can earn a million, lose a billion, cross two continents (all while talking with a business partner on a third), you just need a tool that will legally replace both paper and the need for a physical human signature.

Unless the tasks themselves are changed, an attempt to go paperless will not be successful. – SignNow team

SignNow is designed as a digital alternative to paper-based work. 

Although it won’t give you the sensual experience of flipping through pages, it does let you close deals in a snap. 

SignNow allows you to track all record management – from creation to destruction. It also allows you to digitally manage every file and document. Here you can find out how our customers solve their problems without paper. 

The concept of going paperless isn’t a myth anymore. 

Today, digital e-signature services are what foster business growth. Data suggests that the demand for paper fell by 2.2% for the previous year and will continue to fall in the future.